Still inspired by the session on the “The Future of PCB Engineers” from PCB West last fall, I spent my early December poring over courses at universities across the US, looking for signs of printed circuit board instruction. I’m happy to say it was a fruitful exercise.
Speaking, as we were last month, about roadmaps, their role, who uses them and how, I call your attention to the retrospective that begins on page 27 of this month’s issue. It’s a reflection of the early days of the IPC Roadmap, which was published some 25 years ago.
As with our other year-end retrospectives on the introduction of RoHS and its effective ban on leaded solder and the launch of the IPC Designers Council, we wanted to capture the recollections of those who were on the front lines of the project. (A sad omission: Dieter Bergman, the project’s biggest champion and perhaps the one person most responsible for the first couple iterations, passed away in 2014. I still miss you, Big Guy.)
In 1993, of course, the electronics supply chain was a very different animal. Outsourcing wasn’t new, but it hadn’t taken hold in all corners, especially assembly. AT&T, IBM, H-P, Texas Instruments and Digital Equipment were among the leaders in vertical manufacturing. Many technologies accepted as routine today (SMT and HDI among them) were still finding their way – or hadn’t even made it off the drawing board.
As we come to the end of our run of articles excerpted from the 2017 iNEMI Roadmap, it gives us time to reflect on the nature of roadmaps in general and their value to the industry.
I’ve always been a fan of them. My history with the document dates to the earliest interconnect roadmap, developed by IPC in 1994. As a cub reporter, I covered the series of meetings that led to the first PWB roadmap. The energy was palpable. We really felt like we were saving the industry.
Subject experts acted as chairs for the respective working groups, each tasked with developing a chapter. Each chapter reflected the biases of those who developed it. That first tome ran a scant 172 pages and reviewed nine technology areas, primarily bare boards, assembly, packaging, and components. The development process hasn’t changed dramatically since then, even as the sheer volume of what is described has exploded.
Last week, I attended my first IPC Designers Council Cascade (Seattle) chapter meeting, where I was greeted by a welcoming group of designers and long-time industry experts, including the featured speaker, Dock Brown, co-chair of the IPC DFX committee, and Tim Mullins, the chapter’s president.
Prototron Circuits hosted lunch in a small lecture hall on the beautiful campus of the Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland, WA.